If you need to counsel an employee for improper behavior, then you'll want to take a few minutes to read this article. When you're finished reading, you will have the steps you required to address the matter and the confidence you'll need to follow through on the outcome.

Counseling an employee for bad behavior will require thought and planning. To address the situation properly, you'll need to address the event immediately, stick to the facts, explain the reasons the behavior presents a problem and clearly state what needs to be done to correct the problem.

• Address the Problem Immediately

Counseling an employee for bad behavior can be a difficult task and most managers loathe the thought of it. Although the tendency can be to put off a confrontation, it is best to address the problem immediately. If someone has done something wrong, they know it and they know you know it. To postpone counseling will likely result in the employee perceiving you as a weak leader or take your silence as a signal that you will tolerate such behavior. Additionally, the longer inappropriate behavior or performance goes unaddressed the harder it will be to bring things back in line.

• Stick to the Facts

Most organizations require that all counseling sessions be documented; therefore, it is imperative that you get the facts. Write down the facts of what you have encountered and obtain additional information from trustworthy sources, if possible. Remember, however, it is never a good idea to reprimand an employee solely on second hand information. Unless you can substantiate the facts, do not accuse. And, if you are relying on information from another source, request that source to submit the facts to you in writing.

Additionally, not only is it important to have the facts, it is equally important to articulate the reason the event had a negative impact on the organization.

• Clearly State What Needs to be Done to Correct the Problem

With facts in hand, the next step is to document exactly what you will be discussing with the employee. The documentation can be simple lines of the facts that include the date of the occurrence, the nature of the event, the names of all others present and (most importantly) a specific statement of what you expect the employee to do to correct the problem within a specific timeframe.

Make a copy of the documentation for the employee. During the counseling session, sign and date the documentation and ask the employee to sign and date the documentation as well. Even if the employee refuses to sign, advise them it will be kept on file with your signature.

• Expect Improved Behavior

With the most unpleasant part of the task out of the way, there is no need to address it again. It is usually best to continue interactions positively with expectation on of the requested outcome. When the timeline for corrective action arrives, confirm and document the outcome. If your expectations have not been met, it will be necessary to take additional disciplinary action in accordance with your organization's guidelines.

Although it may not be pleasant to counsel an employee for improper behavior, it is necessary. Addressing the problem immediately, sticking to the facts and stating the desired correction action should result in a more stable working environment for all.